(2) Bet Cancellation
If a bookmaker makes an obvious mistake, it is possible that accepted bets are cancelled before the start of the event in question.
It is quite a common occurrence for a bookmaker to publish incorrect odds which, at first glance, may seem to offer a fantastic arbitrage opportunity.
It is also not uncommon that a match is declared void if, for example, the bookmaker notices unusual betting patterns, a classic indication of match fixing.
Another reason for bet cancellations is a match ending prematurely (e.g. abandonment caused by extreme weather, crowd violence, accidents during the game, etc.). Different bookmakers and betting exchanges apply different rules regarding the settlement of the bet or return of the stake.
Some bookmakers may void all bets not yet decided up to the point of termination, others may pay out on the basis of the result when the match was ended, and many apply a 36-hour or 72-hour rule for the game to be replayed, meaning your stakes are tied-up for this period whilst the final outcome or replay date is determined.
When and how bets are cancelled or voided depends on the terms and conditions of the respective bookmaker or betting exchange.
The usual profit margin of most arbitrage positions is in single percentage figures, so any combination offering 10% potential profit or more should be viewed with suspicion and checked out thoroughly before committing any money. An arb offering 5% or more should also be treated just as warily.
An arbitrage situation is obviously false if, for example, the average price for “over 2.5 goals” is advertised in odds comparison sites as 1.8, but one bookmaker stands alone offering odds vastly above this figure at, say, 2.2. Look to see if the opposite bet “under 2.5 goals” is also reversed as it may have mixed up its prices.
With clear mistakes such as this, the bookmaker will eventually realise when it has received an abnormal amount of wagers on the event, and is likely to cancel all bets placed on this particular event.
- Recognising odds that are false or likely candidates for cancellation or amendment will help you avoid such sticky situations. The old adage applies of if it looks wrong, it usually is.
- Regarding match fixing and the subsequent cancellation of bets due to suspicious betting patterns, there is no ideal solution except by avoiding susceptible leagues and games.
- Losses due to differentiation of terms regarding uncompleted or abandoned games can be avoided by appreciating the terms and conditions of each bookmaker or exchange so that transactions for every arb are made only with those firms following the same rules.